Morbillivirus vaccines: recent successes and future hopes

The impact of morbilliviruses on both human and animal populations is well documented in the history of mankind. Indeed, prior to the development of vaccines for these diseases, morbilliviruses plagued both humans and their livestock that were heavily relied upon for food and motor power within communities. Measles virus (MeV) was responsible for the death of millions of people annually across the world and those fortunate enough to escape the disease often faced starvation where their livestock had died following infection with rinderpest virus (RPV) or peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV). Canine distemper virus has affected dog populations for centuries and in the past few decades appears to have jumped species, now causing disease in a number of non-canid species, some of which are been pushed to the brink of extinction by the virus. During the age of vaccination, the introduction and successful application of vaccines against rinderpest and measles has led to the eradication of the former and the greater control of the latter. Vaccines against PPR and canine distemper have also been generated; however, the diseases still pose a threat to susceptible species. Here we review the currently available vaccines against these four morbilliviruses and discuss the prospects for the development of new generation vaccines.

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